Nearly a year ago, the Sanitation Department removed public trash baskets along much of Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood. It was a grand experiment designed to stop local residents and business owners from illegally dumping their refuse until the cans overflowed.

The experiment clearly failed.

Just look at the small landfill pictured at left. This was the scene at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and 67th Avenue, next to the Fresh Pond Road train station entrance, last Friday morning, July 18. One of our reporters spotted this trash heap and came back hours later to find that it grew to the point where people had to walk around it. This speaks volumes about the nearby storeowners who didn’t lift a finger to clean it, and the bypassers who added to the pile during the day.

Much of the filth was gone by Monday morning, July 21, but a small portion remained.

But this isn’t just an isolated incident. Every morning since this grand experiment began, at one corner or another on Fresh Pond Road, trash piles—either loose or in small bags—lie against telephone poles, mailboxes, even newspaper boxes. It’s left a fine shopping strip in a fine mess, and nobody bothers to clean it quickly.

The illegal dumping continues. The people that left their trash in city receptacles still leave their trash on the corner, regardless of whether there’s an available basket.

We are told there are many reasons for this. Landlords, some of whom illegally convert their dwellings, do not provide proper disposals to tenants, who then leave their garbage at the corner. Some businesses don’t wish to hire a private carter to get rid of their trash, so they, too illegally dump. And some people are just too lazy to care enough about their neighborhood’s appearance.

These problems persist in Ridgewood and elsewhere due primarily to one thing: a lack of enforcement. The best way to stop litterers is to hit them in their wallets with stiff fines. But the Sanitation Department supposedly lacks the manpower to stop illegal dumpers in the act.

After they put the public waste baskets back on Fresh Pond Road and collect the trash more frequently than before, the Sanitation Department should boost its enforcement units and begin undercover operations to bust illegal dumpers. The city should provide them with enough resources to do this important and very necessary job.

The City Council should also explore legislation to permit the use of cameras to catch litterers in much the same way the city catches drivers who speed or blow through red lights.

The landlords should also fulfill their legal obligation and provide adequate trash receptacles for their tenants. If they fail to do so, the Sanitation Department should fine them— and then call the Buildings Department to check for potential illegal conversions.

It’s time to clean up Fresh Pond Road. Everyone must do their part.

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